An officer with Russian border guards deployed to Armenia has been arrested on gold smuggling charges, the border guards chief said Tuesday.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ivan Zhirenko, who served as the spokesman for the Russian border guards in Armenia, was arrested in Moscow's Vnukovo airport Monday on charges of smuggling 17 kilograms (37.4 pounds) of golden jewelry articles from Armenia, said the unit's chief, Lieutenant General Sergei Bondarev, at a news conference in Yerevan.
Bondarev said that he had dismissed Zhirenko as the border guards spokesman. But Bondarev rejected the allegations of corruption and theft among the Russian border guards in Armenia. He said that Zhirenko was carrying the golden articles on request from his friend, a worker at a Moscow jewelry store.
Armenia is Russia's chief ally in the strategic Caucasus Mountain region, hosting a Russian military base and border guards.
(Photolur photo: Sergei Bondarev.)